Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade (Tales of Young Americans)

by Trinka Hakes Noble (Author) David C Gardner (Illustrator)

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade (Tales of Young Americans)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
In 1918 a deadly influenza epidemic was sweeping across America. The pandemic ravaged families, leaving thousands of children as orphans. But in the tenement apartments of New York City's Lower East Side, one young girl is determined to keep her family safe. While her mother is sick with consumption, nine-year-old Loretta (Rettie) Stanowski does all the cleaning, washing, shopping, and cooking for her family. To earn money, she washes rags for the rag picker and cleans the halls and stairways of their apartment building. But Rettie knows the best way to get even more money is to participate in the Ragamuffin Parade that marches down Broadway Avenue on Thanksgiving morning. With the influenza outbreak, quarantines are ordered and large gatherings are banned. Will the parade be cancelled?
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Kirkus Reviews

All ends well in this parade filled with good spirits and optimism.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5--Vivid artwork and a descriptive narrative re-create a vibrant 1918 New York City populated by immigrants struggling to survive an influenza pandemic at the tail end of World War I. Rettie is nine and the oldest of four siblings; she labors to keep their Lower East Side tenement home clean and earns money by washing rags while their father fights in the war and their mother is sick from consumption. Rettie eagerly anticipates the Ragamuffin Parade, in which children dress as beggars on Thanksgiving morning and parade through the streets asking, "Have ya anythin' for Thanksgiving?" Rettie knows the parade may be the only way her family has something special for Thanksgiving but worries that the growing influenza threat may cancel the event. Noble succeeds at conveying the real hardship of immigrant life during the early 20th century while Gardner's artwork breathes vibrancy into the story. His watercolor-and-pencil illustrations reinforce the tone, somber grays dominating one scene where Rettie meets her bedridden mother's eyes. The only bright spots of color are her siblings' clothes and her own patched sweater, as her mother's gleaming gold wedding ring reminds readers that Rettie's father is off fighting overseas. An author's note cites the historical information. VERDICT An excellent historical fiction picture book for older readers interested in U.S. history or Thanksgiving celebrations, this is a timely selection as this year marks the U.S.'s centennial commemoration of World War I.--Rachel Zuffa, Racine Public Library, WI

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Sleeping Bear Press
Publication date
September 15, 2017
Tales of Young Americans
BISAC categories
JUV015020 - Juvenile Fiction | Health & Daily Living | Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
JUV016150 - Juvenile Fiction | Historical | United States - 20th Century
JUV017060 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Thanksgiving
Library of Congress categories
New York (State)
New York
New York (N.Y.)
20th century
Family life
Influenza Epidemic, 1918-1919
Thanksgiving Day

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